AUTHOR Gatis Rozenfelds

Can advertising campaigns change public opinion?

The question if advertising campaigns can change public opinion and behaviour will seem ridiculous to any advertiser - of course, they can, as what then is a general purpose of any advertising campaign? The objective of advertising is to build and create an information environment which would result in demand for certain goods and products. The purpose of advertising is to create the product identity – from the gray ocean of uniformity to put it on a pedestal, to attract buyers' attention and sell.
Of course, all campaigns will never be successful, and not for nothing that someone once said that “half the money spent on advertising is thrown away in the wind" - but apparently the successful half produces results which compensate for the risk of loss. What do you need to know to make your advertising campaign successful and achieve the goal? We will discuss this issue in this article.

Efficiency can be measured

The advertising industry is not very different from other areas of business - for us, just like for representatives of any other kind of business, the main thing is profit. After all sufficient income enables us to pay office rent and wages, which would allow employees to maintain their families and pay taxes. The problem arises only when money becomes the primary motivator. Then we stop searching for the truth and taking an interest in the real state of things. Even more - any truth that threatens profits are swept under the carpet. Perhaps that is why advertisers do not seek to discuss the topic concerning the fact that campaign effects may not only be positive or neutral, but also negative.
The first person who purposefully started to explore the effectiveness of advertising campaigns was Rosser Reeves. In 1961, Rosser Reeves published his book “Reality in Advertising” in which he describes his method – in his sociological studies he asks two questions - do people remember and recognize advertising, and secondly – are they willing to buy a particular product? Quite shocking, but Rivza Rosser has discovered that the people who clearly remember advertising campaigns are less motivated to make a purchase than those who had not noticed the campaign.
Of course, we can discuss whether Rivza Rosser`s approach is consistent with the realities of this century. During the sixties and seventies of the last century, the main arsenal of weapons was much smaller. Immunity in humans against advertising viruses was much lower. Opportunity to be heard was much larger. Informative noise was smaller. People were cheating less and they were more amenable - they did not resist advertising, did not try to avoid it, and it was possible to influence a large amount of people by an ordinary TV ad. Today a lot of people have a television in their phones, but the key word is "consumer engagement" – it is not enough with a simple Unique Sales Proposition (the term used by Rivza Rosser).

However, if we take a look on the other side of the coin – at this year's Cannes Advertising Festival, the work created by the BBDO German branch for a micro car won the Golden Lion. This TV ad demonstrates how the car Smart fails to climb a steep country road and becomes mired in a large pool to make the audience to conclude at the end of the ad that the car “Smart” is as unsuitable for off-road conditions as a jeep car is in a city. The ad demonstrates how a 4x4 sadly passes a small parking lot, where the Smart parks with no problems. – The essence of this ad  perfectly complies with the principles offered by Rivza Rosser.

Campaigns that changed the world

Everyone while searching the Internet can find the world's most successful advertising campaigns - such as the VW “Think Small” or immortal Absolt vodka ads, Marlboro Cowboy (by the way – at the beginning Marlboro was marketed as fine women's cigarettes, and only thanks to the vision of Leo Burnett they got the western mood and positioning “cigarettes for real men”).

Just as we can not leave unmentioned Clairol hair colour ad “Really or, however, not?", thanks to which in 11 years the number of women who dye their hair rose from 1:15 to 1:2 and the U.S. legislature was forced to cancel practice to indicate the colour if hair in the driver's license...
However, every success story is also a story of great failure. The only difference is that advertising mistakes and errors are either unnoticed, or are quickly dissipated, withdrawn and forgotten, and only the most scandalous of them are mentioned on after many years. One such example is NewCoke.

​In its battle against Pepsi, Coca-Cola always suffered a loss due to a worse taste (and here it should be mentioned that it is the U.S., where the Pepsi actually tastes better than Coca-Cola), but, when in 1985, the management decided to improve the Coca-Cola recipe it was found out that buyers are not willing to accept such changes, as Coca-Cola was associated for them with the traditions and constancy - and this concept was in direct conflict with changes in the recipe of the drink. Some months later, after the dramatic drop in sales volumes the Coca-Cola management decided to return to the old Coca-Cola formula despite the fact that its taste was worse.
Someone might argue that the product formula has nothing to do with advertising. This statement is definitely wrong, because advertising shows the buyer the most essential things. The manufacturer of mineral achieves sales growth just by changing the shape of the bottle, and it turns out that this manoeuvre is the best advertisement.

Advertising merges with the product

Similarly, the U.S. trader of Hamburgers has recorded his name in the history of Wendy World's advertising by the campaign called "Where's the meat?" – the campaign is based on a witty comparison of the contents of the Wendy's product with the competitor products (where the meat was obviously less). This advertising became legendary, but it is based on the contents of the product! Separating advertising from the product is like trying to divide the coin into two parts - the emblem and kopeck.
Similarly, the popular Nike FuelBand is the product of course, but what is more important - it ideally involves and communicates the Nike philosophy and brand ideas. Even more so - FuelBand actually involves people giving them the most sensible brand experience. This product is the best form of advertising, which helps the company to promote their ideas and thus sell more of other goods thus achieving business goals.
Today practically all the world's experts agree that the advertising agencies are no longer just advertising agencies, which draw a product poster. Borders are disappearing, and advertising agencies today must participate in the creation of the product, in the involvement of a potential buyer, in the online community building - the development stages and processes are no longer closed and separated from each other - they are intertwined. Product top advertising and advertising top product.
“Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising” is a phrase we hear often in advertising industry. In fact, it has become outdated, as it no longer meets our century realities. If you work in accordance with the principles of modern advertising it is not possible to make a good ad for a bad product.

 Experts may ask “what is the return of Nike FuelBand on invested capital.” Of course, it is possible to measure and track by the assessment of the number and activities of users, their enthusiasm and viral marketing effect, but in reality all this is of no big sense because as the Manager of Nike Digital Marketing said – when the management of the company heard about the FuelBand, the only question that they asked was “when can you get it ready?” In the situation where you see the idea that resonates with your philosophy, you must not doubt, but you must act, because it is obvious that only the advertising campaigns that have managed to successfully detect and demonstrate the unique identity of the product, service, company or brand, hit the jackpot.
The desire to measure the campaign return is a natural desire of any customer. However, an instant increase in sales is not always the best and most reliable criterion – quite often advertising is focused on long-term strategic image building. Often, the company's market situation is too stagnant to provide that a rapid campaign will be able to change at once a ponderous, the stuck in mud public opinion.
But the most important factor in the efficient outcome is the correct evaluation of the situation. For example, looking at the road accident statistics, the question arose whether the annual Road Traffic Safety Directorate (CSDD) investments for prevention of bloody accidents during Līgo festivity is really an effective and sensible way to reduce the number of road accidents.

Statistics reveal the truth

Every year as we approach the summer solstice, the Road Traffic Safety Directorate (CSDD) announces the current campaign against driving transport vehicles under the influence of addictives. No one has ever questioned and will never question the need to call people not to drive transport vehicles under the influence of alcohol or addictives - there's no doubt that losing the relatives in a car accident caused by a drunk driver or addict is a great tragedy. At the same time, if we look at the car accident statistics, it is clear that both concerning the number of accidents and fatalities, absolute leaders are the third quarter and the fourth quarter - moreover, it is not even a trend, but the regularity!

Source: CSB

The other aspect. This year, just a slight increase in the number of arrested persons for drunk driving on 23 and 24 June is observed. Last year it was 284, this year 343 drivers, but - 253 of them rode a motorbike or bike (!), and only 90 – drove a car. Even more interesting things become apparent when the police checking previous convictions for drunken driving found out that 40% of the detainees have been dealing with the forces of law already before (!). This, in effect, means that drunk driving is a chronic disease of the minor part of the society, which can hardly be tackled with advertising campaigns, as such “soft” means of influence are simply too weak to convince hardened driving drunkards.

Should the Road Traffic Safety Directorate (CSDD) stop the campaigns against car driving under the influence? - Definitely not. Long advertising campaigns, certainly is one of the reasons why in recent years the Līgo festivity has passed “dry”.
Just for interest sake we can have a look at the total number of road traffic accidents of the month of June for the period from 2004 to 2012:

Source: CSDD

·      The number of killed and injured persons in road traffic accidents during the period      2004 – 2012.  *. pdf, 105.61 Kb 

The table clearly shows that since 2004, every month of June the number of road traffic accidents has purposefully reduced, concerning the suffered, the injured and the killed persons.

The effect is the consistency

Can the annual advertising campaign messages affect the operational results on public roads? - Be sure that it can. But you should also take into account that the effect of advertising tends to be also general and permanent - advertising, however, largely contains the information that is deposited and impacts human decisions in the long run. This is because the advertising is operating by the canons and stereotypes of thinking and behaviour - a big change rarely occurs rapidly, and the instruction must always be long-term oriented.
If you have a look at the world's most successful advertising campaigns you will come to the conclusion that they have become successful not only due to a proper understanding of the market situation, a good product and a good advertising idea - success is very much dependent on the ability to maintain consistency. Absolut, Marlboro, Nike and many others megabrands do not change  their advertising campaign idea every six months - in fact, they do not change it at all. Because why to change something that works? Trying to figure out a new campaign every three months is becoming a useless advertisement competition of creativeness. And it certainly is the advertising half for creation of which the money spent is thrown away in the wind.
Tags & Categories:  historyadvertisingcampaign
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